The Galaxy Nexus had the working title of Nexus Prime, taken from a backstory for the Transformers movie series. It’s an appropriate name as Google is hoping the device will continue to help Android transforming the smartphone market. The Nexus is produced by Samsung but will be specifically marketed by Google itself, following on from the Nexus One and Nexus S.
One of the key elements of the Galaxy Nexus is that it will be the first commercial phone to run Android 4.0, the latest edition of Google’s mobile operating system, with the odd marketing name of Ice Cream Sandwich (previous updates included Cupcake, Eclair, Gingerbread and Honeycomb.)
The most significant development in Android 4.0 is that it is specifically designed to be suitable for both smartphones and tablet devices. That’s led to both an overhaul of the system’s design and a series of new and revised features that will feature on devices including the Galaxy Nexus/Nexus Prime.
The two most dramatic additions are both the stuff of sci-fi movies. There’s a voice recognition system that, although scooped by Apple’s new Siri feature, stands out by allowing unlimited dictation. Even more impressively it’s now possible to use a photo of yourself as the phone lock: facial recognition means that you and you alone can unlock the phone.
Speaking of the camera, the Nexus Prime will be able to use new features that include built-in image editing, the ability to take static images while filming video, and an automated panorama feature that means you simple move the camera round and don’t need to worry about lining up each “shot” so that they stitch together.
Using the Galaxy Nexus should be a breeze as Android 4.0 includes several revisions to the user interface, similar to the way Windows gets updated every few years. You can now organize apps and shortcuts into folders on the home screen, there’s a special favourites tray at the bottom of the screen (similar to the taskbar in Windows), you can adjust the size of widgets (displays of information such as weather updates or stock prices that are updated in real time), and there’s even a graphical display to show exactly how much data you are using — a must for those on contracts with tough data limits. Check the leaked video:
The Nexus Prime’s hardware makes the best of this update: it has two cameras, one which can record HD video, 16GB storage, a dual-core processor (which means fewer freezes or slowdowns), a true HD screen, and even the ability to connect the phone straight to a TV set through a special adaptor cable.
The phone’s unveiling was delayed briefly as a mark of respect after the death of Steve Jobs. It’s now scheduled for release in the UK on 17 November and, as with its predecessors, is only available in unlocked form: that means users must pay the full, unsubsidized price but don’t have to sign up to a mandatory service contract. The phone will be around £550 including VAT from major networks, though Amazon is selling it for £520.